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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We are here to help you with your home improvement projects. So pick up the phone and help yourself first: call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, post your question to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit or MoneyPit.com’s Community section. Whatever you’re working on, we want to help you get it done quicker, faster, easier and make sure that you can do it once, do it right, and not have to do it again.

    Now, speaking of things that you want to work, that certainly applies to your air conditioning because as the saying goes: “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”

    LESLIE: It’s all terrible.

    TOM: It’s all bad. That’s right. And with that moist, humid air, it can certainly make you uncomfortable and it can also make your house uncomfortable. Because things happen, right? Doors and windows stick. We’re going to have some advice on how to free those up, reduce humidity in your house and make everybody happier.

    LESLIE: And also at this hour, skylights, they can actually help bring more natural light into your home. But the thing is, they’re not all super-complicated and expensive to install like you’re thinking. They are not. In fact, one type, you can install in a matter of just two hours. We’ll explain, coming up.

    TOM: Plus, if you love a garden but just don’t have the room, we’re going to have tips on how you can build a beautiful container garden and reap the benefits of a bountiful harvest without having much space.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away $500 towards beautiful, solid-wood cabinets from CabinetsToGo.com.

    TOM: Yeah, Cabinets To Go builds beautiful, well-made cabinets that can add to any kitchen. If you’d like to win $500 worth to start your own project, call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Those cabinets are going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. So let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Bob in North Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you?

    BOB: Yeah, I’ve got 10 years of cigarette suds (ph) on top of my ceiling here and I’d like to know how to take care of that. I’ve got a textured ceiling and what do I have to do to repaint it to make it look new again?

    TOM: Wow, it’s tough because you’ve got a textured ceiling. So, what we’re going to tell you to do is to use an oil-based primer on the textured ceiling. You’re going to need a very thick roller and they sell special rollers for that that have slits in them, so it’s designed to get in …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They look like a spiral ham.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s designed to get in those nooks and crannies of the textured ceiling.

    BOB: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: But you’re going to have to use an oil-based primer and that will seal in all of that cigarette smoke. Because it’s just so darn hard to clean a textured ceiling. You’re going to have to repaint it with an oil-based primer. It’s as if the house was in a fire, you know? It’s the same kind of thing.

    BOB: Exactly, yeah.

    TOM: You’re sealing in all of that old smoke. And then once you do that, you can use a latex ceiling paint on top of the oil-based primer. But you need to use a really good-quality, oil-based primer underneath first. That’s the only way you’re going to have a half of a chance of sealing in that smoke smell and not having to live with it over and over again. OK, Bob?

    BOB: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lavonne in Iowa on the line with a floor-refinishing question. How can we help you today?

    LAVONNE: Yes. I have 1,350 square feet of engineered-hardwood floor. It has been refinished twice and you know what? It’s looking pretty tough. And I want to refinish it again and I’ve thought about doing a gel with a lacquer over the top of it. But I’m afraid if I sand it any more, I’m going to be into the plywood.

    TOM: You know, it’s very unusual that you’ve been able to refinish it once. Engineered floors have factory-applied finishes and they’re very difficult to refinish, which you may have discovered.

    One thing I can suggest, Lavonne, is this. Is the floor physically damaged or is it really just the finish is kind of worn a little bit?

    LAVONNE: You know what? There is some physical damage because of water issues, like where I had my Christmas tree, right? The ring, where it – because it wasn’t a very thick poly on it, I think.

    TOM: Right. Right.

    LAVONNE: And then there’s scratches, of course.

    TOM: OK. Well, here’s what you could do. What you could do is you could rent not a sander but a floor buffer. And you get a floor buffer with a sanding screen. So it’s a very fine screen that takes the place of sort of the buffing pads. And it will take off just the upper surface of the floor finish and kind of dull it out and smooth it out. And then on top of that, you can refinish it. So it doesn’t really sand the wood; it really just sands the finish, so to speak.

    LAVONNE: Right.

    TOM: And that might be enough for you to get a new finish to take. But I’ve got to tell you, you should just count your blessings because having refinished this two and now maybe three times, with engineered you’re really far exceeding what it’s designed to do. You’re treating this like it’s a solid hardwood and not an engineered hardwood.

    LAVONNE: I know. And you know what? I’ve priced out laying new over the top of it, engineered, because to – the cost to remove what’s already there, the existing, is out of this – out of the – it’s just out of the roof. And to lay over the top of it, is that wise to lay another engineered over the top of it?

    TOM: But that said, I don’t understand why somebody wants to charge you so much to take out what’s there. It’s not attached to the floor underneath. It’s not glued down, is it?

    LAVONNE: You know what? That’s what I don’t know. It’s the unknown.

    TOM: In most cases, you would not glue down engineered floor; it would float. And so if it’s floating, all you would do to remove it is you would set the depth of a circular saw to the thickness of the floor, you’d put a bunch of cuts across the floor in a grid-like pattern, you start prying it up and throwing it away. The only thing that’s hard to get out is where it gets to the edges under the molding. But it shouldn’t be that big of a deal to take up engineered floor, as long as it’s not glued.

    That said, there’s no reason you can’t put a second layer over that.

    LAVONNE: So would you lay something in between? Would you float the floor or would you staple it?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s always floated; engineered always floats. And a lot of engineered hardwoods today have a backer on them already, so they’re kind of cushiony.

    LAVONNE: We’re thinking about – we’re going to list the house. It’s a 5,800-square-foot house. It’s huge and it’s just my husband and I rattling around in this thing and so – you want to do something …

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to list the house, you’re never going to return an investment by replacing the floor. My advice is to sand the floors with a floor buffer and a sanding screen, put another coat of urethane on it and then put the “For Sale” sign in the front yard, OK?

    LAVONNE: Alright. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Happy Independence Weekend, everyone. We hope you are relaxing and enjoying yourself. But of course, relaxing for us home improvers usually means working around the house. So, let us give you a hand with whatever you are working on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, summer humidity is not only uncomfortable, it can wreak havoc on your home, it can make doors and windows swell, it can make HVAC systems work overtime. We’ll have tips to help reduce that humidity, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $500 gift certificate towards beautiful, solid-wood cabinets from Cabinets To Go. What a great prize. Cabinets To Go offers high-quality, solid-wood cabinets for roughly 40 percent less than the made-to-order, big-box stores.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And these cabinets have solid-wood doors, dovetail drawers, premium hardware and lots of great finishes. There’s a style for every taste, including their brand-new Roberto Fiore frameless, European-style cabinets. You dream it, we design it.

    TOM: Visit CabinetsToGo.com and call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller drawn at random is going to win $500 worth of cabinets from CabinetsToGo.com.

    LESLIE: Rebecca in Alabama, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    REBECCA: We have a tree root that has grown into the foundation of our home. Did not realize it until we took the floor up. And we’ve got the tree down and the stump actually ground down so, obviously, the roots are still underneath the house. We have a lot of problems with the room that was damaged by the tree root, where it came – it has a big hump in the middle of the room. We’ve kind of covered it with furniture. It’s our media room. Used to be the garage of the house but it was enclosed when we bought it.

    We have a lot of problems when it rains. Water, mud comes underneath the rug. And I was wondering if there is a way that we could somehow patch the floor or if we need to get someone to jackhammer up the cement floor that’s in here – because, again, it was the garage at one point, so it’s poured cement – or what we can do to kind of help the problem: if we have to repour the entire section, if we could dig up just that one section and maybe patch it up or what.

    TOM: Well, first of all, there’s no reason you couldn’t cut out that one section and repour just that one section.

    In terms of the water issue, I suspect what’s happening is the water is collecting somewhere outside of that area and it’s finding that the path of least resistance. So it’s pushing down around your foundation, under the floor and up into the garage. So you need to try to track down what that issue is. It’s probably a drainage issue somewhere outside those walls, either with gutters or downspouts or for some reason you’re getting too much water that’s collecting in that area. I would look to that as a source of the water.

    But in terms of the floor, you can jackhammer it up in just a section and cut down – of course, remove all those tree roots. Because here’s the thing: now that the tree is dead, those roots will continue to rot away and you don’t want to have voids under that slab. Once the slab is up, you want to dig out as much of those roots as you can. And then you can put stone in there and repour that and cover it all up.

    So those are the two things that I would do: I would remove the area where the bulge is, remove the tree roots and repour it. But also look to the source of the water, because I think that what’s happening is you’ve got a symptom there. The tree root is not causing the water to come in; it’s just following the path of least resistance and working its way in at that spot.

    REBECCA: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, summer is great for so many reasons, from the beaches to the barbecues. But one thing that’s not so fun is humidity. Not only can it make you feel very uncomfortable, it can also wreak havoc on your home’s windows and doors. Now, the excess moisture causes the wood in your home to swell and expand and that can make the operation of these entries a bit sticky.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. So here’s how to get them unstuck. First, you want to make sure all the doors are operating smoothly. Tighten any screws on the hinges and the hardware that may have come loose. Just a loose screw can make that door stick, because the door moves when the hinge isn’t properly secure.

    Now, you also want to lubricate the hinges with WD-40: the miracle lubricant for just about everything in your house. And you can even spray some on the key before inserting it in the lock to loosen that up.

    Double check the weatherstripping and replace any damaged pieces to keep that valuable cool air inside. You pay for all that air to be cooled; you don’t want to let it go.

    LESLIE: Right. Because you don’t get that money back. Now when it comes to your windows, you want to clean any dirt and debris from the sill, the tracks and the hinges. Double-check that the screens are secure and add child-safety bars if you’ve got young children at home. Remember, screens today are only meant to keep bugs out, not keep your kids in.

    And window treatments, they actually can go a long way in helping to keep a house cool. If you keep your drapes closed on the south- and west-facing sides of the home, this will keep the sun’s hot rays out and the cool air much cooler.

    TOM: And of course, to reduce overall humidity inside your house, manage your drainage. A lot of folks don’t connect good drainage at the outside of the house with humidity but it absolutely counts. So, what do you do? Well, you clean your gutters, you extend your downspouts, and you get that soil sloping away from the walls. Because if you keep the moisture, you keep the water away from that foundation perimeter, you’re going to have less transference of that moisture through the block walls and evaporation into the house itself. And that’s going to lower the humidity overall. So drainage does count.

    Your calls do count, as well. Give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and a chance to win $500 worth of Cabinets To Go products from CabinetsToGo.com.

    LESLIE: John in Massachusetts is on the line and needs some help finding a good, licensed contractor. Good question, John. How can we help?

    JOHN: I own a home in New Bedford and the original part of the house was – it used to be in – back in 1940, it was a one-room candy store and they put additions onto it. And the one-room part of the house that was original – from 1925, when they built it – it was – the sills are rotted. Not because of termites, because I just had it checked out; there’s no active termite damage at all. It’s because water was getting in on the bad side of the house, on the weather side.

    And I found that out right after I bought the home but I never got around to fixing the sills. I temporarily – repaired it temporarily until I can get a contractor that’s licensed. Because in the past, I worked with – I’ve gotten contractors that said they were licensed and they’re not; they just lie. They get it on their card and they’re not even licensed.

    TOM: Well, I think you can confirm all that with the local licensing authorities but …

    JOHN: Yeah, yeah. I know that now but yeah, it was a really hard way to go with a few of the contractors I’ve dealt with in the past, you know? They take your down payment, then they wouldn’t show up for weeks and weeks and weeks and I have to call them and …

    TOM: So, things are a little bit easier today because of the advent of the internet, frankly.

    JOHN: Yeah.

    TOM: The fact is that there’s a lot of places where you can research and see contractors and check out their reviews and find one that’s good. One of the websites that was one of the first ones is Angie’s List.

    JOHN: Yep, I called them.

    TOM: They’ve done well with that site. They’ve expanded to other areas, including medical. But as far as contractors are concerned, that was one of their first groups that they had on the site. And there are lots and lots of reviews from people like yourself that have had positive and not-so-positive experiences with contractors.

    So, I mean finding one that way to kind of get started, I think, is a good idea. At least you can come up with a list of folks that have had some bit of experience. And then from there, as you bring them into your house – look, if it’s something like sill repair, there’s not a lot of material expenditure with that. So they shouldn’t be looking for a big down payment; you should be – maybe a progress payment along the way. But let’s face it, there’s not a lot of lumber expense when you’re just replacing sills.

    JOHN: It wasn’t so much in the past of getting ripped off, it was – I had to chase them because they take the money from my job and they would go and do one day here, then they’d go to another job.

    TOM: Yeah.

    JOHN: And then – you know what I mean?

    TOM: Well, we want to make sure that the money that they get from your job is based on them finishing your job. Alright? So I hope that helps you out. I would start with Angie’s List and go from there.

    John, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Rob in Iowa is on the line with a bug/creepy-crawly question. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROB: My wife and I picked up some bed bugs from a hotel we were in.

    TOM: Oh, no.

    ROB: Even though it was – oh, gosh, it’s been a mess. And we’ve had a professional come in. We’ve done – we’ve moved everything out of the room. We’ve bagged up all of our clothing and run it through the dryer. And we still – they’ve sprayed and we’ve still got residual bed bugs. Is there anything else we can do?

    TOM: There is a system out there where a professional can pretty much super-heat your house; they kind of turn the house into a bit of an oven inside. It’s a pretty big deal, because you have to take out your plants and all that kind of stuff. But they pump in hot air and basically, what they do is they drive up with this, essentially, like a furnace on a truck. And they put these big supply ducts into the house and they overheat the house. And I forget what the temperature is they have to get it up to. It’s not a dangerous temperature but it basically …

    LESLIE: No. I want to say it’s like 120 degrees or something.

    TOM: It’s something like that but it heats everything up in the house for some number of hours and that completely wipes out the bed bugs, no matter where they are. So you don’t have to find them with the spray to catch them; you just overheat the house.

    So if you can find an exterminator in your area that does heat treatments like that, that’s proven very effective at wiping bed-bug populations out for good.

    ROB: Very good. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, don’t let lack of space prevent you from creating a garden that you can be proud of. Container-gardening tips from This Old House landscaping Roger Cook, coming up.

    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Stanley Tools. Stanley Tools has been helping to build America since 1843. Look for specially marked Stanley packaging featuring the Made in U.S.A With Global Materials logo. Visit StanleyTools.com/BuildYourAmerica for more information.

    JONATHAN: Hey, this is Jonathan Scott, host of HGTV’s Property Brothers. Don’t let your home become a real-life money pit. Listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show with Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.

    ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor wood-staining project? Get it done the simple way with Flood Wood Care. With products like Flood CWF-UV, you get long-lasting quality at a great value, plus guidance to help make the whole process easier. Get started at Flood.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And if you’ve got a project that you want to show off or a do-it-yourself adventure that you’d love to share, please post it to our Community section at MoneyPit.com or our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Even if you don’t have a big, beautiful lawn in front of your home, you can still create a beautiful landscape with container gardening that can surround your front or even your back entry.

    TOM: Yes. But to be a successful container gardener, it takes a little more than just arranging pretty pots. Here with expert tips to help turn your thumb green for this project, we welcome Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Great to be here.

    TOM: So Roger, container gardening has become really popular. It’s not just for flowers and shrubs. You can really grow just about anything with the right combination of containers, correct?

    ROGER: Containers and the right amount of sun. I have people who grow tomatoes and herbs and every other thing in containers, right at their back door. And it’s great. They walk outside and pick what they need to make pasta.

    TOM: I remember when my wife and I first got married, had our very first apartment. And she wanted to grow basil. And so we had these sort of flower boxes that hung off a railing and we couldn’t get it to go. And then one day, I’m in the supermarket and I see basil with the roots attached in the supermarket. So I bought them from the supermarket, came home and planted them. And within weeks we had like bushes of basil. So, there’s a lot of ways to do this.

    ROGER: Yeah, I mean it’s just picking the right plant for the right spot, again. And you can have a lot of fun with them.

    LESLIE: Now, Roger, I think, really, one of the key components to having a potted plant or a container garden is the watering element, because they do tend to dry out so quickly.

    ROGER: Yeah, you have to remember they’re exposed all the way around to the sun and the wind. So they’re going to dry out faster than the surrounding environment. You need to make sure that the parts are watered adequately.

    TOM: Now, I actually saw you guys use a system, on one of your Ask This Old House segments, which I thought was really interesting. It was sort of a PVC – almost like a manifold with a pipe laid in the bottom of the pot, totally covered by soil. And it had like wicks that came out of it that you filled the pipe up with water. And then, I guess, instead of having to water every day, you could fill this pipe up and have it water itself for a week or so.

    ROGER: Well, I think that’s the key is keeping containers moist all the time to the right level and not letting them dry, get wet, dry, get wet. And that system was beautiful to just fill it and then walk away. That’s a win situation.

    TOM: You’ve got to check that out. It’s on ThisOldHouse.com. Really interesting system.

    ROGER: And the other thing is to remember to have a container large enough that can sustain the plants and hold some water.

    LESLIE: And how do you know that the container is large enough for what you’re putting in there? Is there a rule of thumb?

    ROGER: Yeah. If you have a container that’s 18 to 24 inches wide, then you probably want to put just 3 to 5 plants in that and give them a chance to grow out, get their roots into the soil. If you put too many plants in, the roots will all be tied together and you won’t be able to get any moisture in the soil.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I’ve always found that whenever it comes to our yard, I always use the containers as a really great place to sort of highlight annuals and bring in a lot of color. Is that really the best use for them or can I think about putting a perennial in there?

    ROGER: It’s a good place to put annuals because it’s condensed; you’re not going to spend a lot of money. But I like to combine annuals and perennials. I like to use a perennial as like a specimen in the middle. And if it goes by – say it’s a plant that flowers early, I can flip it for another perennial and take the one I took out and put it in the landscaping so I’m recycling the plant material and not throwing it away.

    TOM: We’re talking to Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Now Roger, when we talk about containers, we typically think about the individual flower pots and square containers and that sort of thing. But what about the sort of living-wall version of container gardens? We have the containers sort of mounted to a wall, then going up and up and up. Number of systems available for that today, right?

    ROGER: A whole bunch, including one that’s a blanket that will just cover the whole wall and has drip irrigation that starts at the top and comes all the way – I’ve seen them done in commercial applications but you could do it in a residential, also.

    There’s all sorts of systems that will fit into what you have at your house. It’s just finding the right one for you and then making sure there’s a way to keep it adequately watered.

    TOM: Now, I want to ask you about drainage, too. Because, of course, we’ve got to water them; they do need as much water as other plants. We don’t want to overwater them and have that water sit in there and rot the roots away.

    I saw – one of your Ask segments, I believe it was – where you actually installed a very cool drainage system into a container. It was sort of a PVC arrangement. Can you talk about that?

    ROGER: Right. It was a PVC planter which came with piping in the bottom and – that just allowed the water to come into the pot itself. So you would just fill it up and it would release water to the soil.

    There’s a number of things we do to help hold the water in the soil and there’s things we do to drain. We want that water to drain out; you don’t want to have too much. And that’s why I always put a little bit of stone and filter fabric in the bottom.

    And the key to watering is to water and find out how deep down that water is getting. If you see it coming out the bottom of the pot, that’s one indication. But you always can stick your finger in and see if the soil is moist or not.

    TOM: So no limit to what you can really do with these container gardens if you’ve got the right sunshine and the right watering mix in the soil to support it.

    ROGER: And a great solution for people who only have small yards or a deck or even a balcony.

    TOM: They say curve appeal really makes the difference when you put your house on the market. So it really doesn’t matter if it’s a condo or a co-op or a single-family house. You really can create a landscape one container at a time.

    ROGER: And it’s a great way to have some fun.

    TOM: Absolutely. Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks again for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: My pleasure.

    LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.

    Up next, summer sun doesn’t have to stay outside. Skylights can bring that light onto the heart of your home and some can be installed in less than two hours. We’ll tell you how, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.com.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller that we talk to this hour is going to win a $500 gift certificate towards beautiful, solid-wood cabinets from Cabinets To Go.

    TOM: What a great prize. Cabinets To Go offers high-quality, solid-wood cabinets for roughly 40 percent less than made-to-order, big-box stores. And these cabinets have solid-wood doors, dovetail drawers, premium hardware and lots of great finishes.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. There’s a style for every taste, including their brand-new Roberto Fiore frameless, European-style cabinets. You dream it, we design it.

    TOM: Visit CabinetsToGo.com and call us, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Bill in Florida needs some help with a new home. How can we help you with that?

    BILL: My brother-in-law purchased a home lived in by a smoker of 13 years: a heavy smoker. Inundated the home with – considerably with the smoke. And we had mentioned some options to him, which was KILZ, take out the rug and sanitize his ductwork. Well, he’s done two of those three things, except for the sanitation of the ductwork and the vent system. And there’s still a preponderance of smell in there. And I was just wondering, are there any other mitigating things that we haven’t considered that we could provide to him to help him out?

    LESLIE: Did you do anything to the subfloor that was underneath the padding?

    BILL: He did nothing to the subfloor. I know that for a fact.

    TOM: OK. It would be a very good idea to prime that.

    BILL: He’s not a man of means, so to pull the rug up and put it back down is probably not going to be an option for him.

    LESLIE: Are you sure that filters have been changed in the ductwork and in the cooling system itself?

    BILL: OK, I know the filters have been changed because I changed them myself when I showed them to him. He has not had the ductwork cleaned and one of the recommendations we’re making is that he hire someone to get in there and clean it. And when you take out the big intake vent, there’s just yellow corrosion all around that foam as it leads up into the roof of the property. So I’ve recommended that he might want to have that foam pulled out.

    But again, depending on the expense, I don’t know if he can do that. Is that something you guys would recommend?

    TOM: Well, here’s another step that you could take in the meanwhile and that is that 3M has a filter that just came out on the market that is a carbon-based filter. So it’s designed to not only filter the air in terms of dust particles but it’s also designed to remove odors from the air. So you might want to think about replacing the HVAC filters with the 3M Filtrete Odor-Reduction Filters.

    The carbon in there is pretty significant; it’s about five or six times more than what the nearest competitor has. It really is quite a lot and I think it might help a little bit in this case.

    Cleaning the ducts when they’re that dirty and that gross is going to be probably a good move. But you might just want to replace the filter with one that’s designed to absorb odor in the meantime.

    BILL: Well, I appreciate the assistance. We’ll try the filters and we’ll just go from there.

    TOM: Try the filter. It’s not very expensive. You know, it’s probably $25, $30 and it’d be worth a shot.

    BILL: OK. Hey, thanks for your time, guys. Good show.

    TOM: Well, it seems most everyone has a room in their home that lacks any sense of the spectacular. And one way to remedy that is to install a skylight. Now, skylights can make a room seem larger, they can vent excess heat and they can let you stargaze from your favorite indoor spot. But before you install one, you need to know which kind to get.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you kind of have to think about how you want to use it.

    So, if ventilation is what you’re after, you want to make sure that you get one that opens easily. If it’s going in a very high ceiling, remote-controlled options are available and can even be programmed to open at certain temperatures, making it really easy for you.

     Now the most important consideration has got to be the glass. If the skylight’s under a tree limb or anything that can potentially fall on it, you need to make sure you get tempered glass. In fact, your building code may require it. Plus, you want to be sure to order low-E glass, which will prevent your summer sun from actually just overheating the room below it.

    TOM: And don’t feel the need to go big. Even the small skylight can add light and lets you count the stars while you’re lying in bed. And some smaller versions are even DIY-friendly. In fact, there’s a version called a “sun tunnel” that’s very, very cool.

    Now, the way this works is you put a small hole in your roof. And I would say it’s somewhere in the area of 12 to 24 inches; it’s a pretty small hole. And then, on top of that, the skylight is mounted and then there’s a tube that has some sort of a mirror finish – a reflective finish – that goes from that point right down to the ceiling. And it brings a tremendous amount of light in.

    And because you don’t have to build the actual skylight well – that light shaft, so to speak – you can actually install a sun tunnel in less than two hours. And they really make a big difference in the quality and the quantity of light that you’ll bring in to perhaps one of the darker areas in your homes.

    LESLIE: I mean it’s how the Egyptians lit the pyramids. It was basically one tiny hole with a bunch of mirrors sort of directing the light that they got in through that one spot.

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: So it really is a technology that’s been around forever and we know it works.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. That number works, as well. Give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Larry in Arkansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    LARRY: Yes. My question is – I have a rolled linoleum floor in my bathroom and the wife doesn’t like it much. And it’s been in there about 8 or 10 years, I guess. And I heard from a friend of mine that there is a product on the market that is a 12-inch square, self-adhesive tile that has a beveled edge on it that can be grouted? Is that a true thing, where I wouldn’t have to put down the cement-board base and all that?

    TOM: Yes, they do have prefabricated tile that comes in sort of somewhat pre-assembled. But you know what? Why don’t you think about doing a laminate floor? This would be a perfect scenario for that and the laminate can look like stone or it could look like tile or it could look like hardwood. It could look like whatever you want and it’s very water-resistant. And you could lay it down right on top of that linoleum.

    LARRY: OK. And I wouldn’t have to put down the cement-board base?

    TOM: No, no. It floats on top of the floor, just like that.

    LESLIE: It’s available in so many different looks, as Tom said. So, just search them out online. Armstrong is a great brand. If you go to Lumber Liquidators, they have a ton of different manufacturers that they sell online. Just to get an idea of what’s available and it’s at a variety of price points.

    LARRY: OK. And Lumber Liquidators handles that?

    TOM: Lumber Liquidators, Armstrong, Bruce. There is a whole bunch of manufacturers that make laminate today.

    LARRY: Alright. Is this a floating floor or does it have to be glued or …?

    TOM: Yes. Nope. It’s a floating floor. And the tiles will lock together.

    LARRY: Oh, OK. Alright.

    LESLIE: Still to come, we have had such a wet and rainy spring and early start to the summer that I bet the outside of your house is looking pretty dingy. We’re going to share some tips on how to get your exterior surfaces clean, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Cabinets To Go, where you get premium-quality cabinets for less. You dream it, they design it and always 40 percent less than the big-box stores. Visit them online at CabinetsToGo.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And we want you to get in on our Dog Days of Summer Facebook sweepstakes. We’re giving away three great prizes, including a propane grill, plus enough propane for a backyard bash from Blue Rhino. It’s a prize worth 178 bucks.

    TOM: All you have to do is visit our Facebook page, hit the “Like” button, fill out the entry form. And if you share the sweeps with friends, you even get five bonus entries for every friend that enters themselves. Check it out at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, post a question in the Community section. And Dick writes: “I have a vinyl siding home. Can you tell me what to use to clean it? It’s dirty on the north side where it gets no sunlight.”

    It’s probably not dirt, it’s probably mold.

    TOM: Well it’s probably mold or algae or mildew. When you have a side of your house that doesn’t get very much sun, you do get a lot of algae growth. And so, the first thing we would tell you, Dick, is to make sure that you try to get some additional sun there. If you can thin out a bit of the trees, that would be a good idea.

    Secondly, you need to get off what’s on the siding and you need to prevent it from coming back. So, one option is to use a product called Wet & Forget. Now, that’s one real simple project product to use. All you do is spray it on that dirty side of your house and let it sit. And if you get a bit of sunlight in there, it will activate the Wet & Forget, it will kill the algae or the mildew or the mold that’s there and the siding will sort of clean itself.

    Now, it takes a little bit of time for that to happen. If you need a more instant response, you’re going to have to clean it using a house-wash product with a bleach additive. And remember, when you use house wash and bleach, you out your plants at risk, your landscape at risk. That’s why we like Wet & Forget. So check it out at WetandForget.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Carol in Nevada writes: “I want to paint my wooden deck white. Can I use just any old exterior paint or is there a special kind that withstands the elements better? My deck takes a beating.”

    Now, it’s weird because in Nevada, she could be in an area where they get like a ton of snow or just beating-down heat, you know?

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    LESLIE: It’s like you get all these kinds of crazy weather conditions.

    TOM: And I would not recommend paint for a deck. I would certainly recommend a stain – a solid stain. And you can get a solid stain that’s white.

    But the difference between paint and stain is that paint is going to peel eventually and stain is not. So I would definitely recommend using a solid-color stain, Carol, and not a paint. Prep is very, very important. Cleaning that old deck is really important. You need to get any dirt, any debris, any algae that’s on that deck off. You can use a product like – Flood has a deck-wash product that works very, very well.

    And then, you can apply the stain. You want to roll out the stain first and then follow up by brushing it in. And that helps to really push the stain into the wood. Two coats of that, and you should be good to go.

    LESLIE: Yeah, Carol. The big difference is the stain is going to actually penetrate the wood, so it’ll last longer.

    TOM: Fran writes: “I have brick ranch, three-bedroom home built in 1974. We moved in, we blew in insulation in the attic and last year, we put in brand-new windows in the whole house. When I close the doors to those two rooms, they get warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter. What could be causing this?”

    Well, generally, the rooms that are at the far end of the HVAC duct system this can often happen to. It’s really important that you make sure you have return air that gets back to those rooms. So I would check the supply air, make sure you’re getting good flow out of those registers.

    But I would also check the return air. One easy way to do that is to take a tissue or paper towel and hold it up to the return-air register. It should draw in and stay there and hold on kind of by itself against gravity. That shows you have a really good airflow going back. If you don’t have that, that is the source of your problem.

    If you do have that, then I would contact your HVAC professional and find out how many BTUs are delivering to those rooms and what is the easiest way to add some additional, so that you get that comfort where it needs to be both winter and summer.

    LESLIE: Yeah, Fran. It really just comes to the amount of heating or cooling power you’ve got for those spaces. And if you don’t have enough, it’s just not going to work.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this Independence Day Weekend with us. We hope that we’ve given you a bit of information that gives you, perhaps, some independence from those home improvement projects that you’re tackling or at least helps you get them done quicker so you can get to the barbecues and the fireworks and everything else that’s going on.

    Remember, if you’ve got a question, you can reach us 24-7 at 888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your question to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2014 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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